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Election Night Musing

By Horace Coleman

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November 5, 2008

Late Tuesday afternoon (about 4:30 PST) I had some errands to run. I took my Walkman with me. First I went to the post office to mail a package, some letters and buy stamps. Radio reception is bad there so I didn't take my Walkman.

The returns had just started coming in before I turned off the car radio. Only two states' returns were in and Obama had a slight lead in electoral votes.

When I got back into my car after my postal business, I drove to the supermarket. Before I got out of my car, Pennsylvania had been projected as being won by Obama. By the time I'd left the supermarket and put my groceries in the car, Ohio was projected as being won by Obama. Before I'd left the supermarket parking lot, Obama was projected as winning the election. By 8 P.M,, west coast time, the West Coast states' votes were tallied. And, it was all over-by projection.

Back at home, I heard ABC-TV's tally while putting groceries away. I saw Jesse Jackson's tears and watched Obama's speech in Chicago's Grant Park. Florida? Won that too?! Virginia!? I saw people chanting and yelling in happiness on D.C.'s Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, disturbing George Bush's sleep.

Obama's campaign had raised more money than McCain's, been better organized, attracted more fervent and active followers and supporters. And, appealed to the young, the educated, the working class, the Hillary supporters, the middle class, the affluent, different ethnic groups.

I thought about some factors that led to McCain's defeat:

* It's still the economy, stupid!!
* Sex / money scandals involving GOP politicians
* More people "support" the troops than become a troop in wars that have lasted longer than World War II. Never have so few sacrificed so much for so many uncaring.
* The war in Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism in many peoples' minds and is unpleasant, expensive and unresolved. While Afghanistan has gotten little attention, the Taliban has regained some strength and the war has seeped into Pakistan.
* While you're fighting costly wars is not the time to cut taxes, BushCo
* You can't vote with your party 90% of the time and be a maverick, McCain
* Sarah Palin is not yet ready for political prime time. She couldn't name one newspaper she read? Her abstinence only approach to sex education kept her oldest daughter from becoming pregnant only until she was 18?
* The size of the government and the national debt ballooned under BushCo. The GOP stands for small government and balanced budgets?
* It's hard to win an election when you spend more time tearing down your opponent than selling yourself
* If all your years in Congress and the Senate haven't produced much significant legislation, what good is all your experience?
* More countries in the world are capable of producing, and eating, our "lunch"
* Veterans who know McCain's voting record on issues related to veterans can't believe him when he says he'll "take care" of them
* The U.S. has the world's highest ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay * High black and young voter turnout
* Latino voters gave less support to a Republican candidate and more to a Democratic one
* The registration of many new voters, who voted Democratic
* Moderates, Catholics, Jews, union households and Independents voted for Obama
* The public was tired of Republican rhetoric and excesses and wanted a changed reality

Now it's time for me to savor this turn in the U.S. road for a moment. Remember the stories and comments I heard election night. I can forget about McCain's health / longevity and stop wondering how long it would take him to start another war.

The sun won't rise in the west tomorrow and there will still be dirty dishes in my sink, but tonight I'll eat some sushi rolls, take a few bites of wheat baguette, have another glass of wine, and sleep soundly.

Let's try for better manners and behavior and more honesty. Too many people too easily believed all the Internet rumors and outrageous attacks about Obama. A socialist / communist, anti-white stealth Muslim who wasn't an American citizen (if you believed the rumors)?

Like there's something automatically wrong with every Muslim. Like Obama and McCain didn't agree on more than they disagree about.

As if there aren't fundamentalist, Born Again, Christian GOPhers who are willfully ignorant, narrow minded, racist, violent, sexist, homophobic, intolerant, eager to mind (and control) other people's business and morals. And, want to hurry God's schedule for Armageddon.

The hard work begins. Obama will get grayer but change has begun. I wish him, and the nation, good luck. Maybe I'll think about that conversation I had with a fellow Nam vet after a small meeting of veterans this summer before I fall asleep. For what it's worth, he's white and I'm black.

Our conversation had turned to politics. I'd said "I'm going to vote for Obama but not because he's black. Being black isn't enough. You have to be qualified."

"I'm going to vote for him too--but not because he's black" he said.

We each were cool with the other's statement. We knew what we meant and what we wanted.

With Obama's election--at least for a short while--race doesn't mean exactly what, or quite as much, as it did yesterday. "Post racial" my behind, though!

The GOP betrayed its roots. It played down and dirty. Now it's down and its brand is dirty. It needs a change for the betterment of the nation, not partisan politics. To stop being obstructionist and overbearing--dogs in the manger when out of power and arrogant ideologues when in power.

The Democrats need to exercise well the power they've gained--the presidency, more seats in the Senate and the House. To be focused, cohesive and forceful but justified. We all, the politicians and the citizens, have the nation's work to do. "Heaven" is still where it was--not here.

By the way, ABC on election night tallied Obama voters this way: White, 61%; Latino, 11%; black 24%.

For the diehards who still have doubts about the qualifications and ability of Obama and his organization: They thoroughly and justifiably kicked your ass. You brought the wrong product to the marketplace. Forget the antichrist and conspiracy theories. What you tried to sell wasn't wanted. Or needed. It's not about eating humble pie or a new and improved same ol', same ol'. Try some sincerity, grace and wisdom. A little compromise wouldn't hurt. Or, even doing something tangibly positive for your base, maybe even the nation.

It's down to basics now for many in "the real America": Rent and mortgage payments, food, utilities, car payments and repairs and other things most people took for granted. Frivolous ideology takes second place to "the necessities" of daily living.

PS: It wouldn't hurt to stop being so grandiose, hypocritical and careless while throwing boulders in your glass houses. But we all know the essential nature of many GOPhers won't change much--if at all.

PPS: There are rumors that other people value their families too and God might even let a few of them into heaven (on a trial basis).

Horace Coleman is a California based essayist / poet. He's a university professor, public information officer, technical writer, proposal writer / editor, community college instructor. Vietnam veteran.

(A slightly different version of this piece was published at the web site OpEdNews at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Election-Night-Musing-by-Horace-Coleman-081105-433.html )

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